Sunday, 10 September 2017

Now it runs

Well it ran for a while, all of probably 10 minutes before the gremlins started appearing. On the right hand bend trains were slowing far more than the tightness of the curve should have caused. A quick check of the cables underneath and one of them was getting warm, a sure sign of overloading. I had thought this might happen so wasn't particularly surprised. I decided I need to increase from 3.5mm plugs to 6.25mm plugs. When I took the 3.5mm plastic plugs off, nearly all of them had cracked. The just weren't up to it. It could have been my soldering of them but I'm fairly proficient at that so probably not the cause for all of them. Suffice to say we now have metal connectors and plugs and it all works fine. I took advantage of dismantling it all to trim some excess timber and to tidy the wiring.

Time to progress the scenery. I'd read a discussion online about the use of Celotex as an alternative to polystyrene. I'd also seen a discussion about whether it contained fibreglass or not and one poster assured everyone that if you bought the proper branded Celotex then it did not contain fibreglass. I can report he was wrong. Mine says Celotex on the outside and fingers tell me it contains fibreglass.


It may or may not be clear but I've put in the stone wall at the back of the mill race and glued down and carved the first piece of Celotex. I'm struggling to know what to do about the backscene. In my minds eye I saw the embankment behind the mill rising steeply up to the road and out of sight. The reality is that the mill is quite large - it's the white cutout on the right and the layout needs to be another 12 inches deep to get a good embankment. There are a variety of subterfuges I can use but nearly all backscenes portray an impression into he distance, the exact opposite of what I need to do here. Something to think about as I build up the contours.

As a separate exercise I've rejuvenated my website at www.goingloco.org.uk. I'll be adding to that as and when I feel the muse!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

It runs

The electrics got completed this morning and as I type this up there is a train running round in the background. I had to fettle one piece of track at a join but otherwise it all worked first time.

So how have I wired it up? Firstly, this is DC and not DCC. I've experimented with DCC but it is more than is needed for this type of layout. I want automation but I believe I can do it in a simpler manner.

Having used a cheap PWM controller off ebay and using LED strips for the lighting it means all I need is 12V DC. The best way to provide that is with off the shelf supplies of the sort that come with all sorts of electrical kit. I'm temporarily using a couple that powered a BT router. Eventually there will be 3 of these powering the layout:
  1. The overhead lights will have their own supply. They don't take anywhere near 2 Amps but it seems to be wise to keep this separate.
  2. The track will have it's own supply.
  3. The servos will also have their own supply. These aren't fitted yet but reading the internet you can find plenty of reports of interference so, again, keeping it separate is a sensible precaution.
I've ordered 4 supplies off ebay. I suspect they are coming from China but that's fine. They will be double insulated and acceptable to exhibition electrician approvers who seem to be often nervous of anything home grown. I've noticed that when they see off the shelf kit they sign it off because there's nothing for them to check. I like having a spare available, hence the 4th supply. By having 4 identical supplies they have identical connectors so are all interchangeable.

The layout is on 4 boards. The fiddle yard has most of the wiring so that's where power goes in and where the track feed comes from. I wanted robustness yet flexible connections between the boards. In the end I settled on 3.5mm jack sockets on each board and purchased some 1m cables ready made. They are a very low price on the internet. Again, I need 3 cables so I bought 4, all interchangeable and a spare.

I was initially concerned that the cables would not carry the track current but with modern motors it is so low I am not seeing any obvious problems, no drops in speed except where the track is tight at the bends and that is down to friction and not power distribution. I shall leave it running a long time and see what gets warm.

The sockets are all bolted into aluminium brackets. I had some long runs of aluminium angle and it took all of 30 minutes to cut and drill the brackets.

At some point in the future I'll wire up the servos but for now I am going to progress the scenery.

Friday, 1 September 2017

A circuit!

The trackwork is all down, 9 months after starting the layout. This layout has really been built backwards. The typical approach to layout building has always been to get the track down first to get something running and build the scenery up afterwards. In this case it was obvious to me that the first thing I needed to do was get the embankment correct at the front of the layout. If I couldn't make that look right then it would not be worth proceeding. It is the focal point of the layout.


The track electrics on the fiddle yard were completed this last weekend and a small control panel added which you can see at the back right of the photo. In the control panel is one of those PWM controllers you can pick up off Ebay for a few pounds. Add a 12V supply and a DPDT switch and you are done. The embankment has been wired and a train has been run. Just the end curves have no electricity just yet.

I'll post about the electrics next but all the components have now arrived but not the interconnecting cables which are due this weekend. 1 week to go and I will have the first train run all the way round.

A backscene at last

It's been a long time coming. Thoughts of how to create the backscene have been at the back of my mind since the start of the layout. I ...